Add Rep. Michael Simpson (R-Idaho) to the Nip-and-Tuck Club.
We suspected he had joined the club when we spotted him in the Speaker’s Lobby last week with a pair of puffy, black eyes. “Yep, I’m still a little swollen,” the 54-year-old Congressman confessed later in a telephone interview. The eyelift was a gift from his wife, Kathy, who stood to benefit herself — and not just from having a better-looking husband. The couple flew to Hawaii for the surgery and post-op recuperation by the plastic surgeon’s private pool. [IMGCAP(1)]
“Yeah it was pretty tough,” Simpson joked. “Not a bad way to recover. About as good as it gets.”
Asked why he did it, the Congressman paused and said, “Why? Because I’m old!” He went further to explain the human aging process: “That skin above your eyelids starts to droop over your eyes.” Plus, Simpson said he tends to get dark circles under his eyes. “In the winter when I don’t have a suntan it looks like I have a black eye.”
Simpson’s plastic surgeon, Dean Sorenson, is an old friend of the Congressman. Sorenson and Simpson were both elected to the Idaho state Legislature in 1984. Three years later, Sorenson went off to join a plastic surgery program in Utah and his wife, Sheila, replaced him in the state Senate. And now — to bring things even more full circle — the wife of Congressman Simpson’s plastic surgeon is seriously considering running to replace Rep. Butch Otter (R-Idaho), who has announced he’s running for governor in 2006.
“I think she’ll do it. She’d be a pretty tough candidate,” Simpson told HOH. Simpson is still recovering from his nip-and-tuck work so it’s hard to say how it will turn out, which is to say, it’s hard to say how Simpson’s working relationship will be with Mrs. Sorenson if she gets elected to Congress!
Party Pooper. Nothing partisan, of course, but Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) is adding his voice to the chorus that doesn’t think there should be any inaugural celebrations this year. What with American soldiers dying each day in Iraq and the gravity of the tsunami disaster in Asia, Weiner believes President Bush ought to put the champagne on ice and chill out.
Weiner has introduced a resolution asking the president to re-direct the $40 million the inaugural committee is expected to spend on parties toward “a use
more fitting to these sober times” — such as bonuses for U.S. troops. That $40 million would amount to a $290 bonus for each service member in Iraq, Weiner estimated. Or, he said, the money could buy armor for 690 vulnerable humvees.
He doesn’t think Americans will take too kindly to live broadcasts of the inaugural balls interrupted occasionally by breaking news of “the discovery of bodies from the tsunami and American troops getting killed by suicide bombers in Iraq.” Weiner argued inaugural shindigs “should be muted — if not cancelled — in wartime.”
The Congressman pointed to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s modest 1945 inaugural party in the midst of World War II, a party Weiner said amounted to Roosevelt “making a short speech and serving guests cold chicken salad and plain pound cake.” And Weiner also pointed out that during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson had no parties at all to mark his 1917 inauguration.
This week, Weiner will be seeking co-sponsors for his resolution to stop the inaugural fun. He said he already has some support from fellow Democrats and even from some Republicans (although he declined to name them).
The Inaugural Committee ain’t calling nothing off. Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said each of the balls and events “will reflect that we are a nation at war and the gratitude the American people have for our military serving overseas.” There will be one gala just for military troops and their families, she noted. Perhaps the theme will assuage partygoers’ guilt: “Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service.”
Armstrong Strongarms Members. Hey, Lance Armstrong fans! You’ll get a chance to see the six-time Tour de France champ in the flesh today on Capitol Hill. The miracle man will be in the Cannon Caucus Room this morning at 9:30 as part of Discovery Communications’ Healthy Living Congressional Fair.
Armstrong, a renowned cancer survivor, will be urging Members to take Discovery’s National Body Challenge, an eight-week weight loss and fitness program. This could be your chance to buddy up with Lance. Eager challengers can remove their shoes and Lord knows how many garments to weigh themselves and undergo a body fat analysis.
First Day Dreams. The first day of a new Congress is a hopeful time, with Members scrambling to introduce pet bills and favored resolutions, most of which have no chance of ever reaching the House floor, much less being enacted into law.
But that doesn’t stop them from trying. Take Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) for instance. The longest-serving Member of the House, Dingell re-introduced a bill on Tuesday to create a national health insurance system (H.R. 15). Now in his 26th term, Dingell was honoring a tradition begun by his father, the late Rep. John David Dingell (D-Mich.), who served 12 terms in the House before his death in 1955.
“My father introduced this legislation at the beginning of each Congress in which he served and, since taking office, I have also introduced this legislation at the beginning of each successive Congress because I continue to believe it should be our nation’s top priority to ensure the health and well-being of its citizens,” Dingell said.
In H.R. 208, Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) wants to end the U.S. embargo of Cuba, a huge long shot with President Bush in the Oval Office and his brother, Jeb Bush, serving as governor of Florida, considering that state’s politically powerful Cuban-American community.
Serrano also introduced a resolution (H.J. Res. 9) to rid the country of that pesky 22nd Amendment, which limits a president to two terms in office.
Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) wants the name of Mount McKinley in Alaska to stay, well, Mount McKinley (H.R. 189). There is an effort to restore the name of the mountain, the tallest in North America, to Denali, which it was originally called by native Alaskans. Denali means “The Great One” in the Athabaskan language.
The Ohio Republican actually stands a good chance of seeing that bill adopted, according to GOP sources.
And in the “It’s Never Too Early to Kiss Up to a Chairman” category, Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) and the rest of Mississippi’s House delegation introduced a bill (H.R. 231) to rename a building owned by the Agriculture Department in Poplarville, Miss., as the “Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory Site.” Cochran (R) just took over the gavel at the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Cashing In, Cont’d. Veteran Democratic operatives Jim Jordan and Erik Smith are joining Westhill Partners Inc., a management consulting firm that, until now, dealt primarily with corporate clients. “One of the things we’re going to do is build the political portfolio of the firm, add issue advocacy clients to the already existing corporate practice that they have,” Smith, a former aide to Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) who most recently served as president of the Media Fund, told HOH.
Jordan, who served as the initial campaign manager of Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential effort, stayed busy in the 2004 election helping direct a number of 527 groups, including America Coming Together and the Media Fund.
Jordan and Smith join Michael Powell, a former Democratic Congressional aide who worked on Sen. Bill Bradley’s (D-N.J.) 2000 presidential campaign, as partners in Westhill’s Washington office. Edward Reilly, another former Gephardt insider, is CEO of Westhill Partners, based in New York.
John Bresnahan contributed to this report.
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